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News Briefs

Update: For coverage of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce endorsement vote, see our blog's "The story behind the chamber of commerce vote to privatize Kesey Square."

Some readers call us Eugene Weedly thanks to our pot ads, so it’s no surprise EW has gotten calls from other media wondering if a recent U.S. Postal Service (USPS) notice about pot advertisements will affect the paper. 

On Nov. 27, the Portland district of the USPS gave the Chinook Observer, a small coastal newspaper in Longview, Washington, a warning that if a “mailpiece” contains ads for marijuana, it is “nonmailable.” The Observer is published by EO Media Group, which also publishes papers in Oregon. 

There’s a growing list of names for downtown Eugene’s houseless population, and the word “travelers” is the latest description. The houseless and their advocates say that identifying the unhoused as travelers is a distraction from the real problem. 

“I think that’s the denial that every community has,” says Sue Sierralupe, Occupy Medical clinic manager, “that these are strangers.” 

The rolling hills of the King Estate vineyards and winery south of Eugene on Territorial Road have become a magnet for birds of all kinds, from migrating songbirds to raptors, that breed, rest and feed on its sprawling acres, but some birds have been crashing into the big windows at the pavilion building. 

Students at UO rallied Nov. 30 in response to the backlash aimed at Syrian refugees. More than four million Syrians, three-quarters of them women and children according to the U.N., are fleeing civil war in that country. 

In the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130, at least 24 U.S. governors have said they would refuse to cooperate with federal efforts to resettle refugees, citing security concerns. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was not one of them. 

Chef Brendan Mahaney sold his popular Eugene restaurant, Belly, to new owners in September, but he already has plans to open another place. 

“I’m dreaming of a casual, New Orleans-style restaurant,” he says.

Contrary to rumors, Mahaney says his choice to sell Belly was “bittersweet,” but not made for any dramatic reason. 

The Kesey Square saga continues: The city of Eugene announced it will issue a “request for expression of interest” (RFEI) for the Kesey Square parcel at Willamette and Broadway, but has not put out an actual decision to sell the square to a public process.

In an email to Mayor Kitty Piercy and the City Council sent Nov. 18, Assistant City Manager Sarah Medary says that city staff is currently “drafting a request for expression of interest, which will more formally ask if there is other viable private interest in redeveloping the parcel.”

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy signed on to a West Coast-wide petition Nov. 21 that calls for politicians to halt all new adoption of fossil fuel infrastructure. Using the political momentum behind the Portland City Council’s landmark Nov. 12 vote to ban any new fossil fuel infrastructure in that city, the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN) is hitting up mayors in Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver B.C. and other cities from California to Canada sign the petition. 

After all the anticipatory hubbub over the Young American’s for Liberty Nov. 20 Liberty Poker Night at UO’s Erb Memorial Union — during which the YAL’s local chapter was denied event funding by the UO student government — the tournament itself was a surprisingly tame event. Among the predominantly male crowd, not a single protester appeared.

A member of a homeless family that includes a three-month-old baby, says they were ordered out of their illegally parked family van by Eugene police officers on a cold night Nov. 19, and told their van would be towed. 

Since the day Brian Babb was shot by a member of the Eugene Police Department, the veteran’s family has questioned the events and policies that led to Babb’s death. 

However, Eugene’s police auditor Mark Gissiner says a flawed report by the Lane County Interagency Deadly Force Investigation Team (IDFIT) means the family still doesn’t have closure, and indicates to Gissiner that the way deadly force investigations are handled in Lane County needs a number of improvements.

Downtown merchants in Eugene are getting a head start on the holidays with a number of events before Thanksgiving, including a tree-lighting ceremony and entertainment from 5:15 to 6:30 pm Friday, Nov. 20, on the east Park Blocks. Many downtown shops will remain open until 8 pm. 

 

About 1,400 wild horses are currently being gathered (aka rounded up) via helicopter from Oregon’s public lands in an area known as Beaty’s Butte on Oregon’s east side. Wild horse advocates are questioning the management of the area and what will ultimately happen to the mustangs once they have been removed from the range.

The Center for Public Integrity recently gave the state of Oregon a grade of “F” in its 2015 State Integrity Investigation, which is a “a comprehensive assessment of state government accountability and transparency done in partnership with Global Integrity.” Oregon also received an “F” on the public access to information component of its overall integrity grade, which is consistent with the “F” given to Oregon by the National Freedom of Information Coalition for lack of transparency.

• Two local events dealing with sexual violence are planned. The first is “Learn, Listen, and Speak Out: A Community Response to Sexual Violence” from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, Nov. 12, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 1465 Coburg Road. Free. The second is a mental health conference, “Addressing Sexual Violence in Our Community: Roadmap to Prevention” from 8 am to 5 pm Friday, Nov. 13, at Valley River Inn, 1000 Valley River Way. Some scholarships available. Contact grace@ccceugene.org.

Last week was eventful for James Manning. As a candidate for Oregon state representative in House District 14, which covers West Eugene, Bethel and Junction City, he says he was excited to see the Eugene library levy pass, increasing hours of operation for the library in his home neighborhood of Bethel. 

As a Eugene Water and Electric Board commissioner, Manning says he spent a lot of time last week talking with people about the $10 fee increase proposed by EWEB that would have charged more to low-energy users and less to high-energy users. 

A reshuffling of the criteria for homelessness in Lane County has erased the eligibility of hundreds of people for the county’s central housing list, leaving many expectant homeless people on the list feeling crestfallen. 

However, the new county criteria also lifts some of the most urgent, life-threatening cases to the top of the list, to more quickly serve them. 

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley is feeling the burn — of climate change. But maybe he’s feeling the Bern, too. Merkley teamed up with presidential candidate and fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders on Nov. 4 to introduce new climate change legislation. The “Keep It In the Ground Act” would end all new federal leases for oil, gas or coal extraction on public lands and waters. 

It’s halfway though fall term and Michael Schill has been UO president since July 1. He’s five months into his term as the fifth president (counting interim leaders, too) in five years, something that has led the Chronicle of Higher Education to call the Ducks’ leadership position a “revolving door.”

Schill met with members of EW’s editorial board Oct. 30 to talk about some of the UO’s current occupations.

Charles Ogletree has a vision for the Black Lives Matter movement, the youth of our country and even a vision for how to change the conditions of generational poverty featured on HBO’s The Wire. Ogletree, an activist and prominent Harvard law professor, will visit Eugene on Nov. 12 to give speeches on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

• ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwys. 36 and 99 were recently sprayed.

• Coos Bay Rail Link planned to begin spraying the rail line from Coos Bay to Eugene beginning Oct. 23. Call the office manager at 266-7245 for more information. 

“Right now at this moment a coyote is strangling in a neck snare or a wolf is struggling in a leghold trap,” says Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense and one of the nonprofit’s founders. The predator advocacy group is celebrating 25 years of work to protect coyotes, wolves, cougars and other predators on Nov. 5 with movies and a Q&A at the Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th Avenue.

Oregon Department of Transportation is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call 1-888-996-8080 for herbicide application information. Highways I-5, 36, 58 and 99 were recently sprayed. Most of Highway 36 was sprayed Oct. 20 and the area near Triangle Lake School was sprayed Oct. 23 when classes were not in session. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently fined Central Point-based LTM, Incorporated (doing business as Knife River Materials) $159,144 for polluting a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Coquille River with sediment; grading and stockpiling earthen material without a Clean Water Act permit; and placing wastes where they are likely to escape into waters of the state. LTM/Knife River’s violations stem from an excavation project on Oregon State Hwy. 42 under a contract with Oregon Department of Transportation.